OKEECHOBEE — Connor Cook exploded for 39 points, 28 in the second half to lead Hardee to an 82-78 victory over Okeechobee in high school boys basketball action Friday.
It was a night for perimeter shooting excellence for both teams. For example, Cook had five three-point field goals in the second half. Okeechobee countered with Zachary Kielbasa who hit six three-point baskets for 18 points.
Demetrius Clark hit three of the long range jumpers in the fourth quarter and finished with 10 points.
Cook praised his teammates for being unselfish and giving him the opportunities.
“My team got me involved, we came out strong in the second half and I knew when I hit a three pointer I could keep it going,” he said.
Hardee jumped out to an early lead but Okeechobee rallied in the first quarter to tie the game at 16, behind five points from Chris Epps, who finished the game with 12 points.
Okeechobee opened up a nine-point lead in the second quarter and took a 37-31 lead into the locker room.
Shaquoy Ferrol, 22 points and nine rebounds, picked up his third foul in the first half, and picked up his fourth foul with three minutes left in the third quarter. Ferrol had to sit out for a large segment of the second half due to the foul trouble.
Clark struggled from the field as he missed his first 11 shots. He got hot in the fourth quarter though when the team needed him most. Clark had nine rebounds and four assists.
Kielbasa was hot when he hit the floor in the second quarter and added two three-point baskets in the third quarter. Cook got Hardee going in the third as they outscored the Brahmans, 23-13, and built a 54-50 lead. Cook had 12 points in the third and 16 points in the fourth.
“I had one game where I had 43 points. I was in my zone tonight and I was hitting them,” he noted.
Cook plans to play college basketball in Iowa. His father is the Wildcats coach Christopher Cook.
“It was an exciting game. You play for moments like this. I knew I had to get in the moment and get going,” he explained.
A total of 56 points were scored in the fourth quarter as each team tallied 28 points apiece for a wild finish. OHS got no closer than four points in the final four minutes.
Hardee improved to (8-17). Okeechobee fell to (14-9).
Daniel Everett had 22 points and 14 rebounds for Hardee. Dionte Faulk added 10 points, and five steals.
Andravious Stallworth had three points, and two steals for OHS.
Okeechobee jumped out to an early 23-5 lead as they won the junior varsity contest 72-41. Juanyae Ford had 16 points and six steals and Janavious Futch had 15 points and four assists. Mateo Vasquez provided eight points and nine rebounds. Malcolm Chambers had 12 points, five assists, and three steals for OHS (13-7). Bud Pryor added four points and Sean Osceola provided eight points and four rebounds. Deshon Wellington had four points and two steals for the Brahmans. Hardee fell to (8-4).
Charles M. Murphy is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News